10 Bad Links That Can Get You Penalized by Google

My Post.pngEvery SEO professional worth their salt knows that links (along with content) are the backbone of SEO.

Links continue to remain a significant ranking factor.

What happens when you get bad links on enough of a scale to harm your site?

Your site can get algorithmically downgraded by Google – or worse, you get a manual action.

While Google maintains they are good at ignoring bad links, enough bad links can harm your site’s ranking.

This guide will explain 10 different types of bad links that can get you penalized, and what you can do about them.

1. Press Release Links

Press release links were popular about 10 years ago.

These links were super easy to get.

All you had to do was write a press release and syndicate it to hundreds of press release distribution sites.

You’d quickly get hundreds of links.

Like any SEO tactic that worked well, it got abused.

Now, Google considers press release links a link scheme because these are so easy to manipulate.

You especially want to avoid any press release links that rely on over-optimized anchor text targeting your main money keyword.

If you absolutely must have a website link due to factors beyond your control, use naked URLs or branded URLs as your anchor text, and use only one link from the contact area of the press release.

2. Discussion Forum Links

To be clear: not all forum discussion links are bad.

If a link is coming from a good quality site, an established user, and the link itself is not manipulative or spammy, you probably will want to keep it.

However, if you have thousands of links coming in from foreign discussion forums, they are all low-quality spammy links, and they continue to come in, you may want to disavow them.

Any links that look spammy won’t do you any favors in Google’s eyes.

3. Links From Foreign Guestbooks

Links like these are also manipulative.

Links from foreign guestbooks can be placed manually or with the aid of an automatic program.

Enough of these at scale can cause ranking drops.

When in doubt, disavow.

4. Many Random NoFollow Links

Think you can fool Google by randomizing your footprint just enough so that your spammy link building will go undetected?

Think again.

It is exceedingly difficult to create randomized footprints that you think Google will not detect.

If you are using an automated program, it is increasingly likely that Google will find the footprint of that automated program, unless it is truly random.

Why? The simple act of nofollowing the link is a footprint.

Thousands of links from many different sites that are all nofollowed is an indicator that something spammy is going on.

5. Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

PBNs used to be a great way to build links to get rankings.

You could randomize your footprint and all would be well.

You could continue to see significant gains from using these techniques.

Not anymore.

Now, PBNs on a massive enough scale can tank your site and cause it to lose organic traffic.

Google is able to detect – and punish – most PBNs.

Some PBNs may take longer to spot than others, but eventually Google will catch on. – Read more

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